The Untouchables

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 11th grade July 2001

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It's the Prohibition era and Al Capone (Robert DeNiro) controls all the liquor pouring into the Windy City's speakeasies. He also "˜owns' the police and the judges. Federal officer Elliot Ness (Kevin Costner) has been sworn to topple Capone's empire using all legal means necessary. After his wide-eyed naivety and enthusiasm causes embarrassment in the papers, he enlists veteran beat cop, Jimmy Malone (Sean Connery) to teach him "the Chicago way" of dealing with the mobsters. He also takes on a hot-blooded, crack shot named Giuseppe Petri (Andy Garcia) "“ a rookie fresh out of the academy, and puts a shotgun in the hands of bookish fellow agent, Oscar Wallace (Charles Martin Smith). Malone offers a wealth of information about illegal liquor activities. After a successful raid on a storage facility and a shootout at the Canadian border, Capone is furious. He puts out contracts on Ness and his "˜Untouchables.'

One of the goons nabbed at the border was carrying a ledger full of entries on Capone's cash exchanges and payoffs to the authorities. The plan is to coax him to squeal on Capone to get a tax evasion conviction. But Ness underestimates Capone's ruthlessness. Soon, the boys with the badges are scrambling for a new witness "“ one who's set to ride the next train out of town.

Brian De Palma's The Untouchables is a great looking, pulpy, fun cops and mobster's flick. In addition to terrific pacing throughout, this bloody Prohibition-era yarn has a handful of dazzling set pieces made unforgettable by cinematographer Ennio Morricone's varied score and the type of skilled, complex editing fans have come to expect and admire. However, this is ultimately an uneven, lightweight piece due to one-dimensional characters and a shallow script. The screenplay has a cut-to-the-chase, paired down flair, focusing on the...